fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumble (audio) \

Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to grope for or handle something clumsily or aimlessly
b : to make awkward attempts to do or find something fumbled in his pocket for a coin
c : to search by trial and error
d : blunder
2 : to feel one's way or move awkwardly
3a : to drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
b : to lose hold of a football while handling or running with it

transitive verb

1 : to bring about by clumsy manipulation
2a : to feel or handle clumsily
b : to deal with in a blundering way : bungle
3 : to make (one's way) in a clumsy manner
4a : misplay fumble a grounder
b : to lose hold of (a football) while handling or running



Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of fumbling
2 : a fumbled ball

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Other Words from fumble


fumbler \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fumble (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumble (audio) \ adverb

Examples of fumble in a Sentence

Verb She fumbled in her pocket for her keys. They fumbled a good opportunity to take control of the market. He was hit hard and fumbled on the 20-yard line. He fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line. Noun played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sean McGrew scored his second touchdown of the game in overtime, Washington’s defense forced Cal’s Damien Moore to fumble at the 1-yard line and the Huskies escaped with a 31-24 win over the Bears on Saturday night. Tim Booth, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Sep. 2021 On Miami’s first drive, King completed all five passes for 39 yards before Michigan State defensive end Jeff Pietrowski forced King to fumble on a 10-yard rush at the Spartans’ 29. Khobi Price, sun-sentinel.com, 18 Sep. 2021 The Cowboys got the biggest turnover of the game with 4:52 to play in the fourth quarter when safety Damontae Kazee forced wide receiver Chris Godwin to fumble the ball. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, 9 Sep. 2021 Sellman reached quarterback Jeremy Dzik on a third-down pass early in the fourth, forcing Dzik — who missed the last two games — to fumble the football. Matt Goul, cleveland, 18 Sep. 2021 Just two minutes after Rosa’s score Bristol Central forced Bloomfield quarterback Darrien Foster to fumble the ball at midfield. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, 11 Sep. 2021 Key Sequence: After Saraland went up 17-16 and kicked off, the Spartan defense forced Mins to fumble on the ensuing possession. al, 11 Sep. 2021 Miami’s new bling got its proper introduction when Chantz Williams sacked Alabama quarterback Bryce Young to fumble in the third quarter, with Jordan Miller recovering the ball and celebrating with the Turnover Chain afterwards on the sideline. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, 4 Sep. 2021 Reviewers say the Kasa switch is simple to install and prevents having to fumble around with switches. Sara Hendricks, USA TODAY, 22 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And on the Chiefs' offensive third try, Edwards-Helaire fumbled one week after his fumble in the closing minutes cost Kansas City a shot at a winning field goal in Baltimore. BostonGlobe.com, 26 Sep. 2021 After his previous fumble against the Ravens, the team — especially Mahomes and Travis Kelce — rallied around him. Jeff Fedotin, Forbes, 26 Sep. 2021 Roberts lost his fumble in the first quarter last week against Cleveland but recovered the ball after fumbling in the second quarter Thursday. Kristie Rieken, Chron, 24 Sep. 2021 Senior Germain Horace recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage at the Jensen Beach 10-yard line. Alex Kushel, sun-sentinel.com, 8 Oct. 2021 Defensive end Michael Matus recovered a fumble on the UCLA 27 to put the Sun Devils in great field position. Emily Horos, The Arizona Republic, 2 Oct. 2021 Moments later, after John Rose recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Yokley swept left and leaped into the end zone to cap a 9-yard TD run. Jim Lindgren, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Oct. 2021 Colin Husko’s interception stopped the second of the four drives, and Hunter Rathgeber recovered a fumble on Antioch’s 33 midway through the fourth quarter. Steve Reaven, chicagotribune.com, 25 Sep. 2021 Oweh, a first-round pick out of Penn State, forced and recovered a fumble on the Chiefs’ final drive, denying Kansas City a potential go-ahead field goal. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, 22 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fumble


1534, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fumble


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish fumla to fumble

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fumble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fumble. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for fumble



English Language Learners Definition of fumble

: to search for something by reaching or touching with your fingers in an awkward or clumsy way
: to handle something in an awkward or clumsy way
: to fail to catch or hold the ball


fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling

Kids Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel about for or handle something in a clumsy way He fumbled in his pockets.
2 : to lose hold of the ball in football



Kids Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of losing hold of the ball in football

More from Merriam-Webster on fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble


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